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The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing Hardcover – August 28, 2012

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Frequently Bought Together

The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing + Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change + Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; 1ST edition (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761171673
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761171676
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A splendid way to avoid one s work. Ben Schott, author of "Schott s Original Miscellany" Do not put off reading this charming guide to more effective procrastination. Dr. Perry is the Fabius Cunctator in our war against the Hannibal of the undone. Be gone, elephants of nagging duty. P. J. O Rourke, author of "Holidays in Hell" Insightful, sensible, and amusing. Harry G. Frankfurt, author of "On Bullshit" John Perry is the wittiest philosopher since Marx (Groucho), and he brings to this book a delightful combination of wisdom and humor. Thomas Cathcart, coauthor of "Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . ." "The Art of Procrastination" is a gem its practical wisdom as spot-on as its humor. Now that I ve devoured this hilarious and insightful tome, I not only know that I m a structured procrastinator, but I ve also picked up some invaluable tips on how to fool myself into being more productive, which to put to use someday. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of "36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction" What are you waiting for? Read this book! Patricia Marx, author of "Starting from Happy" John Perry s book is lively, funny, engaging and wise. And fortunately for procrastinators short. It s just the thing for a moment or two away from the task at hand! Timothy A. Pychyl, PhD, author of "The Procrastinator s Digest" I intend to write a rave about "The Art of Procrastination" just as soon as I ve cleared my desk this afternoon or at least by first thing tomorrow because reading this straight-talking, badly needed book has changed my life. Bruce McCall, writer and illustrator for "The New Yorker" There are lessons both deep and funny to be found in our capacity to put things off, and Perry is the ideal guide a writer of superlative wisdom and wit. Forget whatever you were supposed to do next, and read this book. Mark Kingwell, PhD, coauthor of The "I

About the Author

John Perry is an emeritus professor of philosophy at Stanford University and currently teaches at UC Riverside.
He is the co-host of the nationally syndicated public radio program Philosophy Talk, and winner, in 2011, of an Ig Nobel Prize in Literature for the essay “Structured Procrastination.” He lives with his wife in Palo Alto, California.

More About the Author

I teach philosophy. I am a professor emeritus at Stanford, and a half-time professor at the University of California, Riverside. I co-host a radio program, Philosophy Talk, with my friend and Stanford colleague Ken Taylor. I have three grown children, and ten grandchildren, the youngest of whom is now fifteen. I live in California, in the Bay Area, with Frenchie, my wife of fifty years. Sites for more about Philosophy Talk, Structured Procrastination, and my work in philosophy:
http://structuredprocrastination. com

Customer Reviews

This is a fun little book and makes an enjoyable quick read.
W. A. Carpenter
To be honest, the genius of the book is how it is constructed in short, divided chapters, that makes it easy for a structured procrastinator to read.
If you consider yourself a procrastinator (or even if you only suspect you might be one), buy and read this book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 64 people found the following review helpful By John Williamson TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This reader must admit that the word "mañana," Spanish for "tomorrow," is a beautiful term. It even has a nice ring to it.

Yet I must agree with author John Perry. As he says in his book The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing, there is a fine art to this. In fact, most good dawdlers at least aspire to be structured procrastinators, and Dr. Perry does a good job of explaining this in his book.

The title to this book may sound funny, and much of it is quite witty, but right in the introduction we learn of philosophical concept of "akrasia," which is the state of acting against one's better judgment. Why do people decide to do other than what they think is best for them to do? Both of the great ancient philosophers Plato and Aristotle pondered this, so it's nothing new.

Perry begins his first chapter with a discussion on "Structured Procrastination" and the logic behind the concept. We all do it; we put off doing things that we have to. We may fiddle on the computer, poke around on Facebook, or read Amazon reviews posted by others (like you're doing right now) instead of getting that expense report completed or washing the dishes. We have deadlines, and then find all sorts of diversions to push them back. In fact, my review here is a personal example of lollygagging, but more on that later.

Most of us feel at least somewhat bad about being dawdlers, and in many cases are aware that it can be annoying to others as well.
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Format: Hardcover
As I began to read this book, I was reminded of the Steven Wright observation that I selected for the title of this review. There are practical as well as philosophical advantages to avoiding hasty actions. That is one of several core principles of what John Perry characterizes as "structured procrastination," first in his essay that appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education (February 1996), "How to Procrastinate and Still Get Things Done," and then in his recently published book, The Art of Procrastination (Workman 2012). As Perry explains,

"All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this negative trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastination does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things such as gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it...The procrastinator can be motivated to difficult, timely, and important tasks, however, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.

"Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact. In your mind, or perhaps written down somewhere, you have a list if things you want to accomplish, ordered by importance. You might even call this your priority list. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower on the list. Doing those tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure the procrastinator be comes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Didaskalex VINE VOICE on September 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
***** "Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but 20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions--which, unfortunately, are increasingly available. Procrastination in large part reflects our perennial struggle with self-control as well as our inability to accurately predict how we'll feel tomorrow, or the next day."--Psychology Today

Procrastination is the act of willfully delaying the doing of something that should be done, and in some people it is a habitual way of handling any task. As kids we were asked not to postpone until tomorrow what can be done today, inscribed on school homework books. The avoidance of doing a task which needs to be done, or procrastination not only affects a person's work, but may probably involves guilt feelings. Trying to disguise our avoidance by looking busy doing things that may be interesting, would not contribute towards the goal, rather than filing our tax return, for example, before the mid April deadline!

Searching for books on Procrastination, you may retrieve a thousand, but John Perry is the only author who calls it, an art. The versatile philosopher and creative thinker, who has earned the hearts as well as the minds of his readers and students, is the winner of Ig Nobel Prize in literature, described as, "first makes people laugh and then makes people think." And as a master procrastinator, since I was 7 years old, I was waiting for this book popularizing on his essay which earned him this American parody.

Celebrating a distinguishing feature of human character flaw, The Art of Procrastination is a charming, challenging, engaging book, slim but full with funny arguments and bright ideas.
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